Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And the sailors say, "April, you're a fine girl..."

I heard the Brandy song today and thought it fitting to repost this entry.
Contrary to what many people think, I do not swim out to meet troop ships.

This little gem of a rumor was started by my ex-cubemate, SchmEmily. And while I can—in truth—say it’s just a rumor. I also have to admit that there is a valid reason for the creation of said rumor.

There is also a valid reason for the port authority listing of the next thirty days of docking ships that happens to be hanging in my cubicle at work.

Follow me back about a year…

Whilst attempting to bring sexy back to a bar downtown Charleston in fall 2006, I met a very attractive young gentleman who also happened to be a merchant marine—we’ll call him “Guy” since I can’t remember his name. And since my M.O. is to be drawn to physically and emotionally unavailable men with really strange occupations, this worked out perfectly for me. After all, any guy who spends ten months at a time sailing the high seas with a bunch of men is the ideal candidate for a relationship. Right?

I forgot to mention he was very, very, VERY young. WAY too young. Hence the reason for the “Educate and Release” inside joke my SchmEmily and I have shared since.

Our perfect storm of a relationship lasted about two weeks before he signed up for another trip. So when his birthday coincided with his last night in Charleston, naturally we were going to do it up big.

Which brings us to 9:30 am on a Thursday morning—the night of our last date. SchmEmily and I were chatting about my plans for the evening when she asked me the question that led to the craziest lunch break I’ve ever had…

“What are you getting Guy for his birthday?”

My expression upon hearing this question was one of those “what the hell are you talking about?” sneers that frequently crosses my face.

“Seriously?” I responded, “I’ve known this guy for two weeks and now I have to buy him gifts??? Hasn’t he gotten enough out of me?”

“I just thought it would be a nice thing to do,” she said.

There went the fake Fendi purse I’d been eyeing.

“Guy” was a devout Catholic, superstitious, sailor type. I say “was” not because he’s dead now—just because I don’t know for a fact that he hasn’t had a major falling out with God since the last time I saw him. So when I asked her what she thought I should get him for his birthday, she suggested we visit the local Catholic bookstore.

“You can get him a medal of the patron saint of sailors,” she said.

And…my sneer returned…

What she was suggesting seemed ridiculous to me. Who the helk was the patron saint of sailors? Billy Budd? Captain Hook? I had no idea, but this quest for a gift now seemed like a project that was going to take not only money, but time. And while I liked this cat, I wasn’t sure I was prepared for such an investment.

And so it began…the frantic online search of patron saints. There are hundreds upon hundreds of them. Now, I’m not one to make fun of anyone’s religious beliefs. But seriously, the number of patron saints seems to be in excess. Here are a couple of my favorites:

• St. Joseph of Cupertino: The Patron Saint of Astronauts
• St. Fiacre: The Patron Saint of Cab Drivers
• St. Vitrus: The Patron Saint of Comedians

Let me interrupt here to say: Seriously? Comedians need their own patron saint?

• St. Polycarp: The Patron Saint of Earaches
• St. Roch: The Patron Saint of Knee Pain
• St. Fiacre: The Patron Saint of Venereal Disease

Did any of you notice that the patron saint of venereal disease is the same guy who saints for cab drivers? Is there some reasoning for this?

At this point, I’m looking to pray to the Patron Saint of the Pissed Off ‘cause this little exercise is taking way too long. Luckily, there is also a Patron Saint of Patience that allowed me to keep from abandoning the whole thing.

I decided to ask the one person who might know which Saint I was looking for: God.

No answer.

So, I called the Catholic bookstore and talked to the nun who answered the phone. She made me really nervous. But she gave me the answer I was looking for: St. Christopher. And then she told me this story:

St. Christopher was originally known as Reprobus. He sought out a Christian hermit to inquire as to how he could better serve Jesus. The hermit directed him to a path with a dangerous crossing point at a swift river, and suggested that the man’s great size and strength made him a good candidate to assist people in crossing the river. Reprobus began ferrying people across the river on his back.

One day, a small child approached the river and asked to be carried across. Reprobus began to comply, only to discover that the small boy was far heavier than any other passenger he had taken. The child revealed that he was, in fact, Jesus, and that his unusual weight was due to the fact that he bore the sins of the world. The boy then baptized Reprobus in the river and he acquired his new name, Christopher. Later, Christopher became the Saint of weary travelers and sailors.


The Sister informed me that they just so happened to have medals of St. Christopher for sale. I asked her to hold them for me. Just in case there was a run on St. Christopher medals…You never know.

SchmEmily and I headed downtown with our agenda:

1. Purchase a St. Christopher’s medal as a gift for a wayward merchant marine. Medal must be given via the classic scenario of teary-eyed maiden waving hankie at departing sailor.

2. Find a St. David Hasselhoff—Patron Saint of the Fall of the Berlin Wall—calendar for our cube

We arrived at the Catholic Bookstore pretty quickly and headed straight for the nearest nun. I informed her as to who I was and she led me to the counter where she had already put aside three medals of St. Christopher. Then she began her sales pitch.

“Here is a beautiful Medal with St. Christopher on one side and Jesus on the other. BUT, this one, which is only $20 more, is larger AND has the motto ‘Travel swiftly with God’ inscribed on the back. Is your friend large? Because the bigger one might look better on a larger frame.”

Seriously? I’m being upsold by a nun?

I looked at SchmEmily. “Forty dollars seems expensive for a gift for this guy I’m pretty sure is going to fall off the edge of the earth…”

Let me interrupt here to assure you I’m not some part of an anti-Christopher Columbus group that still believes the world is flat. More, I meant my plaything was probably going to pull the typical disappearing act that most men do. Which I was pretty ok with..

I continued, “Why don’t I get him something else. I saw some nice saint action figures over there, and he is young…Or what about these saint trading cards? He could trade them like Pokemon…we could even laminate them…”

SchmEmily pointed to the forty dollar medallion and I acquiesced, cursing St. Christopher under my breath.

The nun rang up the medallion and, with a swiftness I can only guess is a gift from God, snatched my debit card from my hand. As she wrapped my package up, she then uttered the phrase that succeeded in turning this quick trip into the most insane two-hour lunch I’ve ever had:

“Now, remember dear...this isn’t blessed.”

Blessed? What does that mean?

“Does that cost extra?” I asked.

“Oh no, dear,” she said, “You just have to someone bless it for you.”

“Can you do that?” I asked.

“No, the only one who can do that is a priest,” she said.

“Is there one in the back room there? Is he on break? We could wait a little…” I said.

“No dear. But if you ladies hurry, you might be able to catch up with the priest down at St. Blah Blah Church…Mass is just ending now. Can’t you hear the bells?”

At this point, SchmEmily and I had a decision to make.

1. Go back to the office. OR…

2. Run through the streets of Charleston guided by the sound of church bells. Searching for a priest to bless an overpriced, silver medal of St. Christopher purchased from a salesy nun for a merchant marine about to fall of the edge of the earth.

Do I really need to tell you which one we chose?

We raced through downtown and found the church with seconds to spare, spotting the Father saying his goodbyes to the last mass worshiper of the day.

“Let me do the talking,” said SchmEmily. “My parents just converted to Catholicism.”

“And that makes you the Catholic expert? It’s my merchant marine and my medal…” I responded.

We approached the priest. I was a complete bundle of nerves and in the end, let SchmEmily do the speaking. After all, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to bow, kiss his ring, or anything like that. Of course, SchmEmily led in with, “my parents just converted…” I think she’s bragging about that. We chatted, prayed, and the priest blessed the medal.

Then we thanked him and apologized for leaving so quickly, “We have to find a David Hasselhoff calendar before going back to work.”

“I understand,” he said. But I’m not sure he did.

To end the story, I gave my sailor his birthday medal at dinner and it seemed like he loved it. He teared up a bit and told me that when he was confirmed as a teenager he had to pick a patron saint, and St. Christopher was the one he chose. He proudly showed it to three waiters and the people at the table next to us.

He sailed off the next morning—as predicted, off the face of the earth.

SchmEmily likes to say, “Somewhere out there is a very young sailor wearing a medallion of St. Christopher and thinking of you, April.

I like to say, “Somewhere out there is a fake Fendi I could be carrying right now.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Take a Moment to Get to Know Me

My ex-boyfriend, Jimmy, called me “Toots” and commented weekly that I was like a special needs kid that only he could understand.

A pilot I casually dated told me having a conversation with me was like talking to Vincent Van Gogh the day he cut his ear off. When I asked him what that meant, he said he was just trying to imagine a case of an extremely jumbled mind.

In college, my friend Chris said I was like a spider that “spun a pretty web and then sucked the life out of you.”

These things really hurt my feelings.

Today I saw a fat kid at the grocery store standing in the middle of the candy aisle holding a pile of cheese. I’m not sure why, but that’s when I decided that people just don't understand me—may be taking me out of context. If they weren’t so square, they would get to know me better and appreciate me a little more.

Here are some things that may help you get to know and understand me better:

Sometimes I imagine I’m married to Luke Wilson, but we’re having problems.

I spend at least two minutes each day thinking about birthday cake.

I had the strongest intentions of losing my virginity on prom night, but chickened out.

Every time I drive past a closed Wal-Mart I hope they’ll turn it into a skating rink.

My sister and I drive matching cars and live next door to each other.

At the age of ten I opened my own detective agency and went door to door offering to solve mysteries or do light yard work.

I’m obsessive about lists.

Whenever I walk past a fire alarm I worry one of my hands will take on a mind of its own and pull it.

I snicker every time I pick up a cucumber.

I have a deep mistrust of anyone whose name starts with “Br” but I’ve never met a Corey I didn’t like.

I say my favorite color is green but I want everything to be purple.

My grandmother gave me a mink coat, but I’m afraid someone will throw blood on me so I only wear it when I walk the dog in the morning.

I hate taking showers.

In the fourth grade the majority of my class gave a speech about their pets or superheros, I chose to speak about the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

I’m afraid of swimming and can recite the preamble to the constitution by heart.

When I read aloud to myself I use a British accent.

A bird pooped on my leg at the beach once and now I pretend every bird I see is that same one, nefariously following me around from day to day.

I started playing tennis to meet people, but will only play with my coach.

Daschunds make me mad.

I spend a lot of time devising ways to be more popular with teenagers.

Sometimes I don’t wash my hands after peeing.

Every six months I apply for a job with the CIA.

I’m more attracted to Darth Vader than Han Solo.

When I was nine I drug around a cowboy hat on a string and pretended it was a dog named Scooter.

I’m madly in love with Anderson Cooper, even though he’s gay, and I frequently make up songs about him.

I like any commercial that has a talking animal.

I do at least three crossword puzzles every day, but only the ones on the right side pages of the book.

I tap my teeth when I’m nervous. I’m nervous a lot.

I use aliases at dry cleaners.

Instead of voting, I imagine ways to keep one person from voting for the candidate I don’t like.

I like to imagine every song I hear is about me.

I wish my name was Dior Duvall.